While many could probably argue , and rightly so, that 1967 seventeen episode show was more of a mini-series than an actual series, I say it doesn’t matter. The Prisoner is the best thing ever committed to TV, due in no small part to its creator, writer, director, producer and star Patrick McGoohan. It follows McGoohan, the unnamed secret agent wh0 abruptly resigns and goes home to pack to go on vacation, presumably to cool off. That, like a lot of other things, we never actually find out. While he packs, we never find out his name either, McGoohan’s character is gassed and taken to “The Village.”
He is given a number and thus this man, whose name we don’t know, is come to be known as Number 6. The reason he was brought to “The Village” was so it could be ascertained why Number 6 resigned.
He is monitored closely by Number Two who is the village administrator and, like true middle management, Number Two is replaced continually. None are able to break the stubborn Number 6. A variety of techniques are used in an attempt to try to extract information, such as why he resigned and what information he, Number 6, gained as a spy. Rarely is nationalism an issue in the series. That makes The Prisoner quite unique in that regards. At the height of the Cold War, the East versus West scenario was hammered even into small children but McGoohan didn’t see the battle lines like that. For him, it was about the haves and the have-nots and in “The Village” the have-nots are collected together like cattle. McGoohan seems to be of the opinion that the world’s governments are in collusion with each other. What they fear most is the conscious awakening of the oppressed citizenry. A theme of the sh0w was individualism vs. collectivism and, no matter how the various Number 2’s tried, they could not bend Number 6 to their will. The series fostered a mistrust of leadership. In its view, no matter where you went, what country you lived in, they were buffoons. The show was essentially an extension of McGoohan’s mid-60s show Danger Man. It answered the question that few other shows at that time even thought about. What happened to spies when they wanted out? Was a normal life even possible? Based on Patrick McGoohan’s feelings on the subject, not likely